Holiday Gift Guide for Your Sensory-Sensitive Child
Gift-giving is at the top of my "most stressful things about the holidays" list. If my husband is reading this, he's definitely raising a brow. You see, I love shopping (much to his dismay) and gift-giving is actually one of my favorite things to do.
But, holiday gift-giving? Well, that's a different story.
It's one thing to buy a gift for a birthday, anniversary or special occasion, but figuring out what to get for our kids, my nieces and nephews, my parents, my girlfriend gift exchange, white elephant party, my grandma, our cousins...it's a lot, even for a seasoned shopper like yours truly.
That's why I'm a sucker for a good holiday gift guide- anything to help ease the pressure of coming up with multiple gift ideas.
So, in the spirit of making the holidays less stressful, I've compiled a holiday gift guide specifically for sensory-sensitive kids (but great for all kids!). It includes passive toys which promote creativity, problem-solving and sensory integration.
Here are my top picks by age...
Babies (0-12 Months)
Tummy Time Mat
The perfect tummy time activity that incorporates tactile and visual stimulation.
Spin Around Glitter Drum
Great for hand-eye coordination. The sparkly pattern and pleasant sound (not too noisy) will grab your baby's attention.
This light weight, super silky blanket is the perfect "lovie" for your baby.
An interactive toy that promotes curiosity, exploration and coordination.
Fabulous for calming proprioceptive input.
Both my boys were obsessed with this as infants. Great for visual, tactile and auditory input.
This BPA-free teether is also great for two-handed play.
Watch as your baby becomes enamored by his own reflection. The perfect way to promote visual skills.
Your baby will love this! It promotes visual and auditory development as well as hand-eye coordination.
Wood has natural antibacterial and antimicrobrial properties making it a great choice for a teether.
Musical Instrument Set
This BPA-free instrument set promotes gross motor skills and may even set the stage for a future Bradley Cooper or Lady Gaga (If you haven't heard them sing in A Star is Born, you need to download the soundtrack immediately!).
You can never have too many links! Great for hanging toys in your baby's play area and on his stroller and car seat as well as for giving him opportunities to practice his grasp.
Toddler (12-36 months)
Radio Flyer Spin n Saucer
This schnazzy little ride is fabulous for vestibular and proprioceptive input.
Gonge River Stones
Perfect for motor planning, balance, gross motor skills and coordination.
Jumbo Pegboard Set
Promotes fine motor skills, sorting, counting and patterning.
Large Building Blocks
Great for motor planning and gross motor development. Tip- fill them with dried pinto beans to turn them into a wonderful proprioceptive activity.
Thomas the Train Set (avoid battery trains)
Encourages imagination, motor planning and fine motor skills.
Corolle Baby Doll
Great for social-emotional development
Corolle Potty Doll (girl)
This baby drinks her bottle and goes potty "for real" when her tummy is pressed. A great asset for potty training.
Corolle Potty Doll (boy)
These trucks are the perfect size and great for both indoor and outdoor play. Though they're not necessarily a "sensory" toy, they are perfect for enticing your child to play in the sand and/or the dirt for some tactile input.
Promotes fine-motor, hand-eye coordination, and problem-solving skills.
If you have a "prop-seeker," this is a must-have.
Encourages fine motor skills, spatial reasoning, creativity and experimentation.
Move and Groove Dance Game
This fun family game builds balance, coordination and spatial orientation.
Weighted Tactile Bean Bags
These are great for tactile and proprioceptive feedback and can be used in a variety of ways- tossing them, catching them, hiding them in a sensory bin and searching for them. My boys love to stand on their balance board and try to catch them as I gently toss them.
Pre-School (3-5 years)
This is the gift that keeps on giving. We've had it since my older son was 3 (now he's 6) and it's still a favorite. Great for vestibular and propriocetive input.
My boys love this giant multi-use top! Gives lots of vestibular input and encourages kids to use their imaginations.
This is one of our favorite games. It helps develop focus and visual perception, speech-language and fine motor skills. It's also a great way to help your kids learn about being a "good winner" and a "good loser."
The perfect stocking stuffer for kids who tend towards hyper-arousal.
A wonderful way to help kids squeeze, twist, bend, and pull our their frustrations.
I'll admit that Rody is a little creepy looking, but kids love it! It's great for vestibular and proprioceptive input, core strengthing and balance. I store ours in the closet when the kids aren't playing with it!
Mermaid Fabric Pillow
Provides tactile and visual stimulation- its incredibly soft texture is addictive!
Encourages fine motor skills, spatial reasoning, creativity and experimentation. I even love playing with these!
This is my all-time favorite toy. I love watching my boys build with these- I'm always so impressed by their creations.
These are great for bilateral coordination as well as auditory input. Note- they make a pretty annoying sound, but they are inexpensive and kids love them!
This is by far the best sensory toy we've ever purchased! My boys literally use it multiple times a day. Great for vestibular and proprioceptive input. Depending on how your kids use it, it can give calming or alerting input.
A fabulous tactile toy, these are a sensory-seeker's dream come true!
School-Aged (5-7 years)
Racerz Car Designer
Another household favorite, this is great for fine motor, motor planning and creativity.
A cross between a game and an arts and crafts activity, Doodle Quest helps develop visual-spatial skills, hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Encourages hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills, concentration, cooperative play and gives proprioceptive input.
The perfect before-school activity to warm up your child's body and prime him for learning. Gives vestibular and proprioceptive input and is great for developing balance.
Improves core strength, stability, balance, coordination and gross-motor skills.
Slime Making Kit
Turn your child into a scientist while giving him lots of tactile input.
Music is one of the best tools for calming over-stimulated kids. Cue up some classical music and throw these on your child after-school to help him unwind. Perfect for road trips.
Another great stocking-stuffer. This fabulous concoction turns ordinary water into a white fluffy substance that looks like real snow. Great for tactile input.
A "chic" or "cool" option for older kids who benefit from the sensory input of chewing.
This wearable sensory sock helps with self-regulation, balance and increases body and spatial awareness. It also makes a great "monster" suit, according to my son.
Monilon Magnetic Building Sticks
Helps develop kids’ creativity, hand-eye coordination and visual-spatial skills.
Velcro Toss and Catch
My younger son LOVES this! It's the perfect game for teacher younger kids to play catch. It provides proprioceptive input and promotes hand eye coordination.
This is a great toy for promoting fine motor skills, visual processing, and motor planning.
School-Aged (7-9 years)
We got this when my boys were young and they still use it multiple times a day, every day. It can be installed indoors or outdoors- we have ours in our garage, which we converted into a playroom. My husband said it was pretty easy to install. It's perfect for both sensory seekers and sensory avoiders.
I Got This
This is a super fun family game that encourages motor planning, coordination, and critical thinking skills.
Electronic Arcade Basketball
Your kids will enjoy some good old fashioned sibling competition while simultaneously working on their hand eye coordination.
Another great game for siblings. It promotes gross motor skills and coordination.
For your art-loving sensory kid, this is the perfect travel toy.
Pocket Sized Fidget Cube
If your child needs something discreet to fidget with at school, this is the perfect sized incognito fidget.
Great for sensory seekers who are ready to take their scooter tricks up a notch!
These promote balance, core strength and coordination.
Pogo Bounce Ball
A great toy for waking up the nervous system and giving lots of vestibular and proprioceptive input.
Turn your backyard into a sensory obstacle course with this kit.
There you have it, my top toy picks for your sensory-sensitive child. I hope this elminates any gift-giving induced holiday stress and helps make your holiday season more enjoyable. If you have any gift ideas you'd like to add, please leave them in the comments below.
Click here for my top stocking stuffer picks.